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Yunus Olawale

Many a number of Moroccans who suffered from the sudden and unfortunate incident of the September 8, 2023 took to the streets of a city very close to the epicenter of a shocking earthquake that smashed Morocco to exhibit their anger and frustration after many weeks awaiting emergency aid.

Recall that in Amizmiz and the surrounding villages of Morocco’s Al Haouz province, nearly everyone lost a family member or friend to the sudden incident (earthquake) and which forced numerous people to relocate to impermanent homes. Hence when the Moroccan government has not shown up to come to the assistance of the citizens, they took protest to the streets by different demonstrations by honking cars and motorcycles, demonstrators in the High Atlas town of Amizmiz chanted against the government as law enforcement tried to contain the crowds. The protest followed a worker’s strike and torrential weekend storms that exacerbated hardship for residents living in tents near the remains of their former homes. A man said in the most widely spoken indigenous language in Morocco (Tachelhit) that “Amizmiz is down!”

 Amizmiz Earthquake Victims’ Coordination Group initially organized the protest to create awareness, call the attention of the local and regional officers’ negligence about the incident and decry how some residents had been left off without necessary emergency aid. The group, however, called off its planned march after meeting with local authorities, who ultimately pledged to address their concerns. Despite the organizers’ cancellation, hundreds still took to the streets to protest the conditions.

Moroccan flags were flown by demonstrators, who also expressed their ire at the lack of response from the local government about the emergency support that Moroccan King Mohammed VI’s Royal Cabinet had ordered. While they cheered “Long Live the King,” they pleaded with him to come to Amizmiz and see how the local government was enforcing his orders. They denounced years of marginalisation and highlighted the need for justice and dignity.

Following the earthquake, Morocco established a committee and a specific recovery fund. The government declared earlier this month that it had started paying out 2,500 Moroccan dirhams ($242) a month in the beginning and that it would eventually give up to 140,000 dirhams ($13,600) to restore homes that had been demolished.

Although many had provided authorities with their contact information, Amizmiz residents told The Associated Press earlier this month that the majority of households had not yet received emergency financial aid. As winter in the Atlas Mountains draws near, many people in Amizmiz, which had 14,299 residents as of Morocco’s most recent census, are concerned about where they will sleep.

Following the earthquake, a trailer-based banking unit set up shop in the town square. To provide banking codes that would enable residents to retrieve their cash, local officials gathered phone numbers.

The Amizmiz demonstration against assistance delays coincides with criticism Morocco received for taking in scant aid from just four foreign governments a few days after the earthquake that claimed 2,901 lives. According to officials, the decision was made to avoid gridlock and turmoil on days when emergency response is crucial. The Moroccan government’s refusal to give the go-ahead frustrated search and rescue teams that were unable to enter the nation.

source: Arab News

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